I remember talking with candidates in hard-hit foreclosure areas in 2010 about the impact of that on their campaign strategies. Simply put, many of the traditional Democratic voters in those areas, who came out in large numbers in 2008, had scattered, victims of the foreclosure crisis. Even if they could be found, they may no longer be in the district, and they certainly aren’t focused on politics so much as survival. The other problem is that it’s hard to schedule an effective precinct walk when you go to a neighborhood and half of the homes are vacant.
The Obama campaign, after four years of ineffective programs to deal with the foreclosure crisis, now has to deal with these problems first-hand.
By day, Lynnette Acosta, a 34-year- old mother of two, is an information-technology manager in Orlando, Florida. By night, she’s a sleuth for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, scouring for potential voters.
In central Florida, that means knocking on doors in Hispanic neighborhoods with foreclosure rates as high as 30 percent, where once-registered Democrats have been evicted, their homes now owned by the bank. Volunteers walk house-to- house to determine the number of empty homes per precinct, then look for contact information for voters who once lived in them [...]
As Obama confronts a housing crisis that he’s acknowledged underestimating, his campaign is facing a different kind of foreclosure problem on the streets of Florida and other battleground states, where evictions have left holes in its voter lists. Volunteers like Acosta are central to the campaign’s effort to populate its databases with current addresses and working phone numbers to get out the vote.
It will take a massive use of resources to map out entire neighborhoods and entire swing states, particularly ones in high-foreclosure areas like Florida and Nevada and Ohio, to determine who lives in the homes and who doesn’t. And it’s not only about finding those voters, it’s about convincing them of the worthiness of the Administration that allowed massive continued abuse in the mortgage market and did little to help them keep their homes. And the communities most ravaged by the crisis line up demographically with the communities that most supported Obama – African-Americans and Hispanics, primarily.
This is a less relevant side effect to the destruction of communities in the foreclosure crisis than, say, the actual destruction. But for the Obama campaign, it represents chickens coming home to roost, to paraphrase Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Maybe they should have thought about keeping their promises and helping people stave off illegal foreclosures, with the recognition that they’d have to go back and locate the same people four years later.